There are a lot of things you need to fear growing up.
The man down the street or a visiting uncle.
Driving home from a game or movie late one night and getting murdered by some drunk.
Your leaders sending you to die in a war they could have avoided and would never have had the courage to fight in themselves.
The fear of rejection. Most of us have been there, our hearts pounding in our throats, hoping the girl or women you just asked to date or dance doesn’t say no. Rejection hurts, but don’t take it personally. While guys worry a ‘no’ might embarrass or insult them, women worry what the ‘no’ will bring out of you.
Be afraid of what many dying people regret the most – not being true to themselves. There’s a vision in society of what a man is and what is expected of men. Don’t buy into it. Be yourself, be real, do what’s in your heart and let it take you to the places you dream of.
I’m not even going to pretend to know what you need to fear if you’re black, brown, wear a turban, or if you’re openly gay. Of all the stumbling blocks I’ve encountered in my life, none of them were because of my faith, my sexuality, or the colour of my skin. But I can be angry when it happens to other men, and I support them.
There are a lot of things young men today need to be afraid of, but being falsely accused of rape isn’t one of them. If you don’t live in fear of being falsely accused of armed robbery you don’t have to live in fear of being falsely accused of rape.
Statistically the chances are almost exactly the same.
If you want to be outraged at what you see happening in the world, be outraged about something real, be outraged at the men who made it this way.
Then change it.
Yesterday, thousands of women took to the streets in Washington to say they’ve had enough of constantly living in fear of men and sexual violence.
Be an ally. Be afraid of what silence says about you because it speaks volumes to the women in your life.
Stand with them and stand with each other. Ending violence against women is an issue that needs your voice, your courage, your strengths, and your heart.
Know there is nothing to fear from the man in the mirror when he can smile back at you with a sense of pride – knowing the people in your life, your school, and your community are better off because you decided to show up when they needed you the most.
Change the world.